Coronavirus live updates: State Department will evacuate Americans from cruise ship, China slams global overreaction

  • China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 143 deaths nationwide, as well as 2,641 new confirmed cases as of Feb. 14. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 66,492, and number of total deaths at 1,523, the authority said.
  • The U.S. State Department will evacuate its citizens and their families who are onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan that has been quarantined for almost two weeks.
  • China’s foreign minister slammed the global ‘overreaction’ to virus in an interview with Reuters.
  • White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox Business Network on Friday night Eastern time that testing and production of a coronavirus drug could start as soon as late February.

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

All times below are in Beijing time.

“The impact of the epidemic on the Chinese economy will be short term and temporary,” Chinese foreign affairs vice minister Qin Gang said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

“When the epidemic is over, the subdued consumer demand will be released rapidly and the economy will rebound strongly.”

The State Department will provide a chartered aircraft to fly American citizens aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise directly from Japan to the U.S., it said in a statement Saturday. The aircraft is set to arrive in Japan on the evening of Feb. 16, and will land in the U.S. at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Some passengers will then continue onward to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. All passengers will need to be quarantined in the U.S. for a further 14 days. Those symptomatic passengers unable to board the flight will “receive the required care in Japan,”  the State Department said, expressing its gratitude to Japan for its “extraordinary care and hospitality” and assistance. 

“Should you choose not to return on this charter flight, you will be unable to return to the United States for a period of time,” the State Department said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make a final determination on this matter.”

Chinese officials disclosed Saturday that travel during the latest Lunar New Year period was a fraction of previous years, as people stayed home and took advantage of refund policies that authorities enacted in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

China’s aviation authority said since it first announced a ticket refund policy in late January, domestic and foreign airlines have processed 20 million tickets worth more than 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion). The number of flights has been about a quarter of what it was last year, a representative said.

China’s railway authority said rail trips during the holiday travel period so far have been one-seventh of the 280 million it had anticipated, and that it has processed 11.5 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in ticket refunds.


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